University of Delaware Library

Special Collections Department

Paul Bowles
Letters to John Martin

1975 - 1990

Manuscript Collection Number: 324
Accessioned: Purchase, 1991.
Extent: 89 items (.3 linear ft.)
Content: Letters, plays, novella, and fiction.
Access: The collection is open for research.
Processed: April 1996 by Anita Wellner.

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Table of Contents

Biographical Notes

Paul Bowles
Paul Frederic Bowles was born in New York City on December 30, 1910. Since the 1940s, Bowles has written numerous works of fiction, essays, translations, travel writing, poems, and other works. Among Bowles's best-known fictional works are the novels The Sheltering Sky (1949), Let It Come Down (1952), The Spider's House (1955); and his initial short story collection, The Delicate Prey and Other Stories (1950).

Paul Bowles has also had a prominent career as a composer. He studied with both Aaron Copland and Virgil Thomson, and during the 1930s and 1940s became one of the pre-eminent composers of American theater music.

In 1938, Paul Bowles married the former Jane Auer, who, under her married name, became an accomplished author. Paul and Jane Bowles spent much of their married life traveling throughout the world and in the late 1940s made Tangier, Morocco, their permanent home. Jane Bowles died in 1973, but Bowles has continued to reside in Tangier.

John Martin
John Martin is the publisher of Black Sparrow Press, which is noted for its publication of the works of contemporary poets and writers. Black Sparrow Press began publishing in 1966 with a broadside of Charles Bukowski's poem "True Story."

In addition to publishing most of the poetry written by Charles Bukowski, over the years John Martin has published the work of such writers as Diane Wakoski, Tom Clark, John Ashbery, Denise Levertov, Robert Duncan, Gertrude Stein, D. H. Lawrence, James Purdy, Joyce Carol Oates, Wyndham Lewis, Robert Creeley, William Everson, and numerous others.

John Martin has published the work of both Jane and Paul Bowles, as well as Bowles' translations of the work of Mohammed Mrabet. The works of Bowles which bear Black Sparrow Press's imprint include Scenes (1968), The Thicket of Spring: poems, 1926-1969 (1972), The Boy Who Set the Fire and Other Stories (1974), Thing Gone and Things Still Here (1977), Collected Stories, 1939-1976 (1979), Five Eyes (1979), Next to Nothing: collected poems, 1926-1977 (1981), Midnight Mass (1981), and a reprint in 1982 of the Spider's House.

Black Sparrow Press also published Bowles' translation to English of Mohammed Mrabet's Look and Move On (1976), Harmless Poisons (1976), and The Big Mirror (1977).


Miller, Jeffrey. Paul Bowles: A Descriptive Bibliography. Santa Barbara, Calif.: Black Sparrow Press, 1986.

Morrow, Bradford and Seamus Cooney. A Bibliography of the Black Sparrow Press, 1966-1978. Santa Barbara: Black Sparrow Press, 1981.

Sawyer-Lauçanno, Christopher. An Invisible Spectator: A Biography of Paul Bowles. New York: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1989.

Scope and Content Note

Paul Bowles Letters to John Martin consist of a substantial group of eighty-four letters written by Paul Bowles to John Martin, plus a copy of Bowles' manuscript for Points in Time. Eight letters from Mohammed Mrabet to Martin (as translated and typed by Bowles), as well as copies of Bowles' English translations of Mrabet's play, Earth, and novella, Marriage With Papers are also available in this collection.

Dating between 1975 and 1990, Bowles' and Mrabet's letters communicate their questions and concerns about John Martin's publication of their works, as well as conveying their appreciation and enthusiasm for Martin's work. In Paul Bowles' letters are found references to his books, Points in Time, The Spider's House, Midnight Mass, Five Eyes, Collected Stories, 1939-1976, and The Boy Who Set the Fire and Other Stories. Martin's publication of Jane Bowles' letters (Out in the World: Selected Letters of Jane Bowles, 1935-1970) and her Feminine Wiles are also mentioned.

The letters of Bowles, as well as the eight letters translated and typed by Bowles for Mohammeh Mrabet, also discuss several of Mrabet's books, including Marriage with Papers, Look and Move On, The Big Mirror, and Harmless Poison, all published by Black Sparrow Press. Among the letters are photocopies of Mrabet's works Earth and Married With Papers which were sent to John Martin for his consideration.

In addition to discussing Martin's editing and publication of his books, Bowles requests copies of his books, inquires about royalty statements and payments, conveys his concerns about multiple literary agents and international publication rights, and mentions the publication in the United Kingdom of his works by Peter Owen, Limited.

Bowles' letters also contain references to his health, displeasure with Sawyer-Lauçanno's An Invisible Spectator, his problems with Larbi Layachi, Jeffrey Miller's bibliography of his work, his thoughts of Arab-American relations and the difficulties they create for him, and a variety of allusions to his daily life.

As a whole the letters serve to document the professional relationship of writer to editor, as well as the friendship shared by Paul Bowles and John Martin.

Related collections:

Ms 110 Pagany Archive
Ms 163 Paul Bowles Papers
Ms 164 Paul Bowles Collection

Ms 165 Christopher Sawyer-Lauçanno Papers Related to Paul Bowles

Ms 323 Paul Bowles Letters to William Saroyan

Unprocessed Peter Owen Limited Archive

Contents List

Folder -- Contents

   Series I.  Paul Bowles Letters to John Martin, 1976-1990

F1   1976 Apr 9          TLS       1p
     1977 Jul 26         TLS       1p

F2   1979 Jun 12         TL        1p
               Note: Missing bottom of page which had corrections for Five Eyes.
          Jun 22         TLS       1p
          Jul 6          TLS       1p
          Aug 29         TLS       1p
          Sep 4          TLS       1p
          Sep 6          TLS       1p
          Sep 18         TLS       1p
          Sep 25         TLS       1p
          Sep 29         TLS       1p

F3   1979 Oct 17         TLS       1p
          Oct 17         TLS       1p
          Oct 19         TLS       1p
          Oct 22         TLS       1p
          Oct 27         TLS       1p
          Dec 28         TLS       1p

F4   1980 Feb 12         TLS       1p 
          Feb 23         TLS       1p
          Mar 11         TLS       1p
          Mar 21         TLS       1p
          Apr 2          TLS       1p
          Apr 17         TLS       1p
          Apr 25         TLS       2p

F5   1980 May 5          TLS       1p
               Note: Includes a photocopied typescript of Mrabet's "Married with
                    Papers," which was published as Marriage With Papers.
          May 26         TLS       1p

F6   1980 Jun 28         TNS       1p
               Note: Includes a photocopied typescript of Mrabet's play, Earth.

F7   1980 Oct 28         TLS       1p
          Nov 27         TLS       1p

F8   1981 Jan 7          TLS       1p
          May 7          TLS       1p
          Jul 2          TLS       1p
          July 8         TLS       1p
          Oct 13         TLS       1p
          Nov 22         TLS       1p

          Series I. Bowles Letters to Martin (cont'd)
F9   1982 Jan 15         TLS       1p
          Feb 4          TLS       1p
          May 18         TLS       1p
          Jun 8          TLS       1p
          Jun 29         TLS       1p
          Jul 31         TLS       1p

F10  1983 Jan 3          TLS       1p
          Feb 4          TLS       1p
          Mar 2          TLS       1p

F11  1984 Jan 11         TLS       1p
          Jan 24         TLS       1p
          Jan 30         TLS       1p
          Feb 18         TLS       2p
          Feb 23         TLS       1p

F12  1984 Mar 9          TLS       1p
          Mar 13         TLS       1p
          Mar 20         TLS       1p
               Note: With copy of Bowles' revisions for a book by Larbi Layachi (17p).
          Mar 29         TLS       1p
               Note: With copy of Millicent Dillon's letter to Bowles regarding Layachi.
F13  1984 May 18         TLS       1p
          May 31         TLS       1p
          Jun 14         TLS       1p
          Jul 9          TLS       1p
          Aug 5          TLS       1p
          Aug 22         TLS       1p
          Oct 18         TLS       1p

F14  1985 Apr 27         TLS       1p
          Jun 26         TLS       1p
          Jul 8          TLS       1p
          Sep 5          TLS       1p
          Oct 7          TLS       1p
               Note: Includes a seven-line autograph note by Bowles.

F15  1986 Apr 13         TLS       1p
          Jun 19         TLS       1p
          Jul 13         TLS       1p
          Nov 13         ALS       1p
     1987 Jul 7          TLS       1p
     [1987 Dec 14]       AN        1p
               Note: Written on a letter from Leavitt to Bowles.

F16  1989 Jun 3          TLS       1p
          Dec 13         TLS       1p
     1990 Jan 9          TLS       1p
     [1990]    Feb 25    ALS       1p

          Series II.  Paul Bowles' Points in Time, [1981]

F17  Photocopy typescript of Bowles' Points in Time, [1981]
     Includes a letter from Ned Leavitt to John Martin (1981 Aug 12), which discusses the

          Series III.  Mohammed Mrabet Letters to John Martin, 1975-1980
               These letters were typed by Paul Bowles as he translated Mrabet's words
               into English.

F18  1975 Aug 8          TLS       1p
          Sep 20         TLS       2p
     1976 Jun 14         TLS       1p
          Aug 14         TLS       1p
     1977 Jul 18         TLS       1p
     1978 Oct 8          TLS       1p
     1980 Mar 4          TLS       1p
          Apr 11         TLS       1p

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